The Breakdown

Explaining Southern California's economy

Why you should move to North Dakota: Los Angeles has most unaffordable housing in America

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46131 full

Another week, another study reminding us that living in Los Angeles comes at a very high cost. Housing is unaffordable for almost half of L.A.-area households, the highest percentage of any major city in the country, according to a new report from Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies.

In more positive news, the study also reported that L.A. had the second highest jump in permitting for single-family homes  last year (52 percent) of the nation's top 100 metro areas, trailing only Atlanta (62 percent). L.A. also recorded the second-highest increase in multifamily permits (17,700), behind only New York (30,000). Unfortunately, as I reported earlier this month, much of what's being built are expensive, high-end apartments.

The study used the standard measurement of affordability, which is calculating the percentage of households spending more than thirty percent of their paycheck on housing, a threshold that likely seems laughable for the quarter of households in L.A forking over more than half of their paychecks to pay for housing.

MAP: How does your neighborhood rank for affordability?

People usually think of San Francisco as having the highest housing costs in California, if not the U.S, and residents do pay more there ($1,650 a month on average vs. $1,420 in L.A.) but households also make more ($73,700 a year vs. $56,800 in L.A.) So, the San Francisco-area ranks as only the 32nd least affordable place in the U.S, behind San Diego (#5), the Inland Empire (#6), Oxnard/Thousand Oaks/Ventura (#10) and Santa Barbara/Santa Maria (#11). 

In case you were wondering, New York, where the average household median income is $63,550, ranks as the seventh most unaffordable city. 

Want to live somewhere where your paycheck will stretch further? You can always move to Bismarck, ND; It has the most affordable housing costs of the top U.S. 381 metro areas. The household median income is $55,000 while the average household spends a mere $680 a month on housing.

Yes, the average high in January is only 23 degrees, but with all the extra money in your pocket you would have plenty to spend on sweaters.

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